For the next set of interviews for Vino Veritas, we traveled east, to Virginia, to learn a little about the birth of the wine industry in America. Most think of the West Coast as the original home to American wine, but in truth early colonists were required to plant vinifera, and Thomas Jefferson even was a partner in a fledgling wine company with his Italian-born neighbor, Filippo Mazzei.
Andy Reagan is now winemaker on Mazzei’s former estate. The vineyards are new…now grafted on disease resistant American rootstock. But Jefferson’s dream of fine wine production in Virginia lives on after a hiatus of a pair of centuries.
And another Italian vigneron now tends the vineyards on Monticello. Gabriele Rausse helps to produce an estate wine at Monticello while also consulting with area wineries and producing his own label of Virginia grown wine. Gabriele’s connection to Jefferson goes well beyond horticulture, though, as he’s found a philosophical resonance in the words of the founding father.
And yet another Italian-born winemaker is heading production at Barboursville Vineyards, one of the oldest and most recognized wineries in the state. Luca Pascina grew up in Italian wine country and knew he wanted to be a winemaker at a very young age. And he’s settled into the lifestyle and landscape of Virginia, where the challenges of weather and excess rain don’t keep him from producing award-winning wines, or even deciding that they should skip a poor year if that’s what it takes to maintain their reputation of excellence.
We captured interviews and and tried to uncover the early roots of American winemaking in an effort to connect this story to what we’ve been covering in the Midwest and West Coast. We’ll share a video of extras from the trip soon.